This month I thought I’d write about discontinuations. If you follow me on facebook you’ll already know that this is a word I detest! So I thought I’d take this opportunity to elaborate.
In bridal terms gowns are discontinued when the bridal manufacturer and the factory no longer wish to make the product. This can be for many reasons but the main one is monetary.
Some of the designers we deal with are huge worldwide entities, so they need to have dresses in their collection that are popular the world over. I’ll never forget a gorgeous dress we had five or so years ago. We loved it and so did our customers, so you can imagine how gutted I was when we had the discontinue notice on her. We called the designer and begged for it to be reinstated as it was such a good dress for us, but it turned out that we were the only shop that ever had actual brides want to buy it!
For designers who don’t own their own factory discontinuations are regular. These designers effectively rent a production line in a factory that specialises in bridal gowns. Most factories operate a system of cutting tickets, where a minimum number of each dress must be produced to make it cost effective. So if a particular dress only receives five reorders in a specific time period then the factory might chose to stop making it.
Some dresses might be discontinued pretty soon after they are launched. In this case it is usually because not enough shops purchased one for their stock. Sometimes a dress just comes to its natural end. Some bridal gowns can remain in the designer’s collection for several years but as soon as the look becomes unpopular they’ll make the decision to phase it out.
Usually designers give us a few weeks’ notice on their plans to discontinue, which is brilliant as it gives us the chance to get all outstanding orders submitted. Girls who have been on a payment plan for instance will be called to come in and pay the rest of their deposit and possibly be re-measured.
But sometimes gowns can be discontinued without notice. This will typically be because to physically make the gown might have become difficult or even impossible. Designers might source fabric, beading and appliqués from a wide variety of sources, so if one element of their supply chain is unable to deliver then the gown cannot be made in the same way as the original. Sometimes designers can make the dress in an alternative fabric or with a different kind of fastening or beadwork, but more often they will simply discontinue the style with immediate effect.
This kind of discontinuation is the one that breaks my heart! Obviously in this circumstance it cannot be helped but it means that some girls might be disappointed. It’s the main reason I encourage girls not to go shopping for their wedding dress before they are ready to buy. There is nothing more upsetting to see a girl come back to us months after her first visit, having now decided on the gown she wants, who then learns that she can’t get it. I always feel like the baddie.
Often we see designers launch a variation on that discontinued style in their next collection. They may have figured out the reason it was an unpopular style and have rectified it. We once had an amazing gown named Tessa, who had a fab half bow at the waist, we were gutted when the designer discontinued it, but the very next season it reappeared with a beaded motif instead of the bow!
So a discontinuation doesn’t mean that it’s a bad dress. The unfortunate reality of the bridal industry is that for a designer to be a success they have to sell a certain amount of each dress, and dresses that don’t receive enough reorders are cut from the collection to be replaced with a new style in the next collection. The upside of this is that these discontinued styles that cannot now be reordered will be reduced in price and offered in a bridal shops sale! Most shops keep their stock in immaculate condition, so you could be lucky enough to pick up a gorgeous gown at a bargain price, and since it is now discontinued, it will be even more unique!